Becca’s Opening Your Heart Into the Unknown

“Fear and fatigue block the mind. Face both, then courage and confidence flows into you” B.K.S. Iyengar

“When compassion, or warmheartedness, arises in us, and our focus shifts away from our own narrow self-interest, it is as if we open an inner door. It reduces fear, boosts confidence, and brings us inner strength.” The 14th Dalai Lama

Backbending asanas (Purva Pratana Sthiti) involve coordinating the movements of the spine to arch the back and lift, broaden, and open the chest area. This category of asanas helps build courage, alleviate depression, and overcome fear. They greatly benefit the mind by making it more resilient, humble, and alert. Although there are always uncertainties in life, we’re now confronting it head-on (whether we like it or not). This is definitely a scary concept for most of us. Although fear can be beneficial (like fear of touching a downed power line!), it can also be blinding and inhibit personal growth. Sometimes we need to literally and figuratively open our hearts to see if our fear is helping or hurting. Now is the time to be courageous so we can support and help those who need it most.

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Beginning to Emerge

Our past weeks of withdrawal have caused a lot of strain.  Often holding back does cause strain. Like holding the dog leash when your pet really needs to run. This forced containment has caused us to look inward. That is one of our practice techniques!  We place our attention inward towards a specific area and look for the details of relief, growth and ultimately stabilization with ease.

Now a hint of possible expansion in our community is beginning to emerge. How will we evolve going forward?  How can we balance the effort of contraction and expansion to get to that essential “point zero”, or controlled effort that evolves towards ease?

Many poses feel like we should develop them by contracting to go deeper into the architecture of the pose.  Other poses feel like we need to expand greatly and extend our reach! Twists are usually a bit of both. This post’s sequence is comprised of mostly twists, and all about opening up the abdomen to new space or withdrawing it inward for more contained strength.  Guruji spoke often spoke of yoga practice as both a personal evolution and involution.

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Sway with the Times, Soar with the Cranes

I think that most yoga students toss aside the arm balances as too difficult or strenuous, thinking, incorrectly, that they require a great deal of arm strength.  When I started as a student, my arms were plenty strong but I couldn’t manage a single arm balance, and it took years to sort out what allowed these poses to “happen.”  And that’s how I view them, as a pleasant result rather than something forced with willpower.  When it goes well, the feeling is one of lightness and ease, as though levitating (one of the yogic “superpowers” in the yoga sutras).  Rather than a feeling of accomplishment, however, I notice (or go for) passivity in the brain while holding the pose.

The following sequence will hopefully give a taste of how to attain this sensation.